Day 39 Rotorua to Whitianga
Well what a fab day today has been. First the day dawned bright and sunny again, but we've been caught by that before so I reserved judgement on what the rest of the day would bring weather wise, but it stayed sunny and hot all day - result! On the road by ten to drive to Whitianga but we had been advised to stop enroute at Tauranga and Mount Maunganui as it was a lovely spot: boy are we glad we did. Tauranga is quite a largish town so we bypassed this and drove straight to Mt Maunganui which is a lovely small resort on a peninsular with the bay and harbour on one side, and the ocean o the other, bit like a NZ version of Sandbanks and then a huge mountain at the end, not at all like Sandbanks! We drove round to Pilot Bay side of the Mount initially but there had been a big landslip on that side so it was closed off and we had to drive around to the ocean side and climb the harder path up, (we didn't know at the time it was the harder of the two, only after we came down). After we had miraculously found a parking space right on the beachfront, and free, take note Bournemouth & Poole council, we stopped and watched the surfers who were riding some great waves for a while and then walked to the Mount and started climbing, mostly all steps up 232 metres of mountain in baking sunshine, ohmigod! All in all it takes an average of 45mins to climb up but there were some mad idiots who ran up; I don't think I've ever been that fit! I did wonder at times if I was going to make it at all but we did and boy was it worth it, the views from the top were absolutely outstanding. I think if there was a place in New Zealand that I would want to move to then this was it. Overall it was a boaters and swimmers paradise, huge expanses of calm bays and islands on one side with a lovely beach and bay with completely flat water, then a massive sandy beach on the ocean side with fantastic surf but still really safe - and to top it all the weather to make good use of it. We were both sorry to leave but reluctantly we had to drive the rest of the way to Whitianga.
We have a lovely luxury B&B for the next 3 nights but unfortunately it's a 35 min walk out of town and although it's a lovely bay and it's right across the road sadly there's not much actual beach - we were too spoilt today at Mt Maunganui that's the problem. Anyway we have a smashing balcony and the forecast for the weekend looks promising. We've also found a great restaurant in town where we had scallops for dinner so I think we will be going there again………